Healthcare: Opening new frontiers

Oncology has been and continues to be a very attractive therapeutic area for the major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Keytruda a blockbuster drug from Merck & Co. is used in the treatment of inoperable or drug-resistant melanoma, few types of non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancer to name a few. Research is on-going to study the effectiveness of Keytruda against other cancer indications as well. 

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is the latest science that has caught the imagination of the industry. Novartis’ Kymriah is the first CAR T-cell therapy drug approved by the US FDA. It is used to treat B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in second or later relapse. Novartis and Gilead Sciences, Inc. are the two pharma giants currently dominating the CAR T-cell therapy scene.

CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system is a non-invasive treatment option for patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors. The biggest advantage that CyberKnife offers is that the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, with treatment lasting between 30-90 minutes.

Research into new forms of biologic therapy such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy for cancer is a growing field. Even though these forms of treatment are effective in treating and managing cancer, they are very expensive. Biosimilars are an alternative to this therapy. Biosimilar is a biologic medical product that is almost an identical copy of an original product that is manufactured by a different company. AbbVie Inc.’s Humira, is a biologic treatment option used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and Crohn’s disease amongst others.

Another emerging trend is the use of technology in healthcare, better known as Health-tech. Health-tech is fundamentally changing how and when medical decisions are made and treatment is provided. This is achieved through a combination of wearable devices, telemedicine and home diagnosis to name a few. As a result of this the providers of healthcare have begun to recognize the importance of the use of technology in healthcare. Recently, a Seattle-based health-tech startup 98point6 raised $50 million in a new funding to scale its on-demand text-based primary care service.

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